Paul Blart: Mall Cop

There was a big brouhaha over Paul Blart: Mall Cop being #1 recently, like it was some sort of stain on the underpants of cinema, so I had to see it. And it’s really not deserving of the hate- this isn’t Mall Cop Movie, but we’ll get that next year I assume. It’s not great, but it’s a fun family-friendly comedy with Kevin James from “King of Queens,” and will definitely appeal to fans of the show.
Paul Blart is a sad sack mall cop who keeps failing his State Trooper test due to hypoglycemia, which makes him fall over like a fainting goat when he doesn’t get enough sugar. This relegates him to mall cop duty at the West Orange Pavilion, where he takes his job very seriously. He takes his Segway scooter home to practice. He could compete with figure skaters on that thing, as demonstrated in a video his mom posts of him on a dating website. See, he’s a lonely single Dad too- living at his mom’s, with his suitably chunky daughter Maya- and unfortunately the movie spends way too much time on this and his romantic life, to be really funny.

As he rolls around the mall showing a new recruit the ropes, he sees Amy (Jayma Mays) , who runs the hair extensions kiosk, and falls for her. And drives headfirst into a minivan. He gets off on the wrong foot with her and stays there, as an obnoxious pen salesman keeps muscling in on him. There’s a scene at a chain restaurant where he accidentally drinks margaritas thinking they’re lemonade (since he doesn’t drink) and dances like nobody’s watching. Except Amy- and everyone else- is.
When the mall gets taken over by thieves who take hostages, Blart is in the McClane role in Die Hard (yippie ki yay Mister Falcon) and the energy picks up. I went in expecting a lot more jokes, even kid-level ones, but it takes a long time to build up steam and even then there are only a few solid laughs. This reminds me of the family-friendly gutless comedies of the ’80s. Newsflash- fart jokes won’t make your kids worship the devil.
This is definitely funnier than 3 episodes of “King of Queens” stuck together, but hopefully James will drag comic Patton Oswalt along for his next movie, because this one fizzled. He’s got Jamal Nixon- the hefty young black comic who was young “Hercules” in Nutty Professor 2- but he needed more help. This was not quite as bad as some of Jim Carrey’s early efforts, or Larry the Cable Guy, but save it for cable or maybe a rental. Kevin James is funnier than this, and if the movie weren’t so dry and tame, it would be easier to watch. As it is, if you catch it once the mall gets taken over, you’ll see the best parts.

Rating: 2.5 Blarts out of 5